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signal analysis primitives, and auditory dimensions

Dear list,

I'd like to have some feedback on two curiosities of mine.

Several years ago, when I approached the Fourier theorem, I read a footnote in a
textbook which stated that a scientist, almost a contemporary of Fourier,
created a mathematical model which decomposed signals using a "primitive" which
was not the cosinusoid, but something similar to an impulse, in a fashion, I
guess, close to the granular synthesis approach. Sadly I can't trace back that
citation anymore, so if the ears of someone resonate to this a feedback would be
much appreciated :-)

The second curiosity might appear as the question of a provocative naive
student. Auditory dimensions, as imprecise as this definition may be, are pitch,
loudness, duration, spatial position, and "timbre", or the pletora of perceptual
continua this latter term hides. Many good reasons can be given for the way we
dissect the auditory percept, and the historical roots for this view are rather
ancient, I believe. But, did someone try to explicit the origin of these choices?

Thanks a lot

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